The Artist: Karen Attix, Nevada City |

The Artist: Karen Attix, Nevada City

What is your career and your current job title? Dance teacher and choreographer/Pilates and Gyrotonic personal trainer

Describe in a sentence or two your art. My art is human movement – its expression through dance, its science through anatomy, and its athletic physicality through downhill skiing.

How long have you been working in this discipline? 46 years

Why do you do it? A deep spiritual, emotional and mental need to stay connected to my spine and my feet. I have always been motivated and, most of the time, obsessed by the need to feed my kinetic intelligence – from riding a two-wheeled bike at age 4 in the Berkeley hills, to roller-skating down the Oakland hills, to starting ballet training at age 3 and now downhill racing at the age of 58. In addition, my deepest passion, dance, has always been my best friend, allowing me to express myself honestly and fully. I have been gifted with an extremely agile and perfect body for dance, and my mother was wise enough to see that I got the proper training when I needed it.

What do you hope to accomplish? As a newcomer to Nevada City and Grass Valley, I hope to give back to the community all the wisdom of my great teachers – from Merce Cunningham, Alonzo King, Michael Smuin, Margaret Black (who trained Natasha Markova) and Bayan Jamay, modern jazz blues teacher in the tradition of Alvin Ailey.

Do you create your art with an exact message you want the viewer to receive and if yes, what is that message? As a teacher, trainer and choreographer, my message is always one of the supreme joy and wisdom of the body. I especially employ this in my Pilates/Gyrotonic work, as there is no other work of art more excellent than the architecture of the human body.

Where do you want to be with your art, in terms of part-time versus full-time status, art positions and where your work is seen? I would like to establish my dance classes and Gyrotonic training and choreograph for the modern dance groups in the county.

What kind of special training did you take? I have studied classical ballet for 55 years; modern dance and jazz for 40 years. I have also studied Afro- Haitian with Ruth Beckford of the Katherine Dunham Company, and I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. I am currently studying Capoeira here in Grass Valley.

What’s your favorite part of your endeavors? Moving to music with other dancers in a room full of sweaty bodies.

What’s your least favorite part of your endeavors? I love it all.

How many hours a day, or more appropriate, a week, do you spend on your work? I work daily on staying in shape and working with clients, teaching and planning classes.

Do you consider it hard work and could anyone do it? Being a professional dancer is a 200 percent commitment of time and energy. You really do give up any outside life in order to succeed. And you do need kinetic intelligence – tons of it. So, it is not for everyone. Dance, though, is for everyone, even if you have two left feet.

Any other comments you’d like to include? I am very stimulated by the dance community here in Nevada County and look forward to growing and sharing my art and passion for dance and healthy body mechanics in order to stay moving your whole life.


“The Artist” appears each week. To suggest a creative talent who should be profiled in this feature, contact Pam Jung at or 477-4232.

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